El Salvador police: gangs step up killings before election

January 18, 2019 GMT

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) — Authorities in El Salvador say the nation’s street gangs have stepped up killings to put pressure on candidates in the Feb. 3 presidential election.

Minister of Justice and Public Safety Mauricio Ramirez Landaverde says the gangs appear to be trying to pressure candidates to grant them the kind of truce deal they had in 2012.

Landaverde said Thursday “they are looking to be included in the candidates’ platforms.”

Authorities say violence may have dropped briefly during the truce but that gangs used it to extend their power.

They said 169 people were killed between Jan. 1 and Jan. 16, including five police officers.

The resurgence comes after 2018, when homicide rates fell for a third straight year to 50.3 per 100,000 inhabitants, less than half the 103 recorded in 2015.